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Cookbook Review: “My Sweet Mexico”

My Sweet Mexico

My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats

Fany Gerson saw a niche that needed filling. Cookbooks and pastry shops highlighting French croissants, British scones, Italian gelato, and American doughnuts are a dime a dozen. But Mexican desserts were a cookbook desert until Gerson's My Sweet Mexico. READ MORE

Is Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” a Failure?

Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

Plenty

When I finally got my hands on Plenty, the padded white tome of vegetarian recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, I was stoked. The Israeli-born restaurateur with four eponymous, popular locales throughout London (one restaurant in Islington and three smaller takeout/cafés in Kensington, Notting Hill, and Belgravia) has some serious food cred. His first cookbook, Ottolenghi, was a bestseller. Yet I had trouble with Plenty. Flipping through it made my mouth water, but cooking from it was a different story. READ MORE

Grace Young Is a Wok Evangelist

Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young

Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories

Grace Young wants you to cook with a wok. Through travels and interviews, Young (who has a few cookbooks under her belt and is a contributing editor at Saveur magazine) witnessed home cooks in China and Taiwan abandoning woks for nonstick pans. Meanwhile most Asian Americans don't even know how to use the woks that have been passed down from their parents and grandparents. (Guilty as charged—I am Chinese American and didn't own or use a wok until recently.)

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Delicious Italian Recipes from the Franks

frankies spuntino kitchen companion

Make food approachable, enjoyable, and attractive. That's the philosophy on food and eating shared by Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, and it's reflected in their new cookbook, The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. The Franks, as they are known, grew up around the corner from each other, worked their way through professional kitchens, and in 2004 started Frankies Spuntino 457.

The book, cowritten by Peter Meehan, is as attractive and approachable as the small Brooklyn restaurant. The fancy trimmings—dark blue faux leather with gold-stamped print and gilded edges—suggest coffee-table status, but this Cooking Manual is really meant to gather stains on the kitchen counter. READ MORE

Whole-Grain Baking, Not Just for Hippies

In Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, Kim Boyce destroys the notion that baking with whole-grain flour results in gritty, leaden cookies and cakes. Often using a combination of flours, she explains the unique flavors that grains such as teff, quinoa, and buckwheat bring to the baking table, then creates recipes that complement them instead of trying to sneak them into stuff under the guise of making things healthier. Barley flour has a sweet and creamy quality, she says, so it goes great with fruit like strawberries, which she folds into barley scones. Rye flour? Not as intensely flavored as your pumpernickel makes it seem—Boyce likes to pair its maltiness with basil and mint in zucchini bread.

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Don’t Forget About “Forgotten Skills”

Dubbed the "Julia Child of Ireland," Chef Darina Allen has run the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School just outside of Cork since 1983. Set amidst a working organic farm, the school teaches students as much about the ingredients themselves as how to cook them.
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Blue Ribbon’s Comfort Food with Good Technique

The saying that you should only eat in a Chinese restaurant where Chinese people are eating is a cliché. But it's hard to dispute that a restaurant filled with great chefs is going to be top-notch. When Eric and Bruce Bromberg opened Blue Ribbon Brasserie in SoHo almost 18 years ago, the brothers kept the restaurant open late. Soon Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten were dropping by after work. They came for the bistro-style food, like the now-famous and much-copied marrow bones served with toast. Next the Brombergs opened Blue Ribbon Sushi, then Blue Ribbon Bakery and a handful of other New York restaurants. Now they have written the Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Better Home Cooking, filled with unpretentious dishes like fried chicken and steak and eggs. (Try out some of the recipes they gave us: Garlic Dill Pickles, Sautéed Calamari with Parsley and Garlic, Doughnut Muffins, and New York Strip Steak with Caramelized Shallots.) We talked with them about how they got here.

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